To understand why Jesus was crucified, it would be helpful to understand the events leading up to his arrest and crucifixion. You can learn more in these posts; Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday.
Psalm Sunday was the flashpoint that ultimately led to the death of Jesus because his actions threatened the established order of things. The Roman authorities and the Jewish council perceived him as a political and social troublemaker, so they wanted him out of the way.
In those days, death by crucifixion was a common and brutal punishment used by the Romans to discipline and humiliate transgressors and provide an example to others who might want to rock the boat.
What was it about Jesus’ crucifixion that made it so important, though?
In the Old Testament, God promised to send a specially anointed person, the Messiah, who would make a sacrifice of himself to save the people their sins and so give them life eternal.
Christians believe that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah and that his death was all part of a divine plan to save those who would believe in him.
The story of his death and resurrection is at the heart of the Christian faith because if there were no death, there could have been no resurrection. Then again if there was a death, but no resurrection; then Jesus would have been just a deceased political and social troublemaker.
The Jewish people wrote the Old Testament, and although many of them believed Jesus was the Messiah and became Christians after Jesus’ death and resurrection, still many more did not believe in him and maintained that the Messiah was still to come.
Jesus was born into the Jewish faith; Christians believe he was born to die and fulfil the ancient prophecies and that this offers the hope of life eternal to those who would believe in him. His life and death demonstrate the great love that God has for all humanity; the day before he died he said to his disciples;
‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.’ John 13:34-35 NRSV